I have been in love with photography since I was 13 (1953). I saved up the grand sum of $35 for my first camera, an Argus 35mm film camera. My first serious camera was an East German made SLR, which unfortunately had a pinhole leak in the shutter. I took it apart to repair it, couldn't figure out how and couldn't remember how it went together.
I got more serious in college when I had access to a darkroom. I could literally spend a day in a darkroom. What a magic thing it was to see a picture slowly show on the paper in the developing bath! I had use at the time of an old Speed Graflex and a Mimaya medium format film camera.
After college, life took over. I had a fairly decent Minolta SLR, but seldom used it. With no darkroom, there was no point, it seemed to me. There were family pictures and that was about it.
And then came the digital age! I bought the first Sony digital camera, which was less than a megapixel, I believe, and took a 5 ¼ floppy disk to store the pictures it took. I dove in and never went back to film (well, almost never; I had a Nikon f100 for a few years, sold it for the step up to a D300S). My latest iteration is a D7100 and an accumulation of seven lenses.
Nature photography was a natural progression for me. I was a practicing forester for 39 years, all of which were spent as a “grunt” forestry consultant (which means I stayed in the woods). I saw everything from the magnificent to the horrible, defined personally as virgin forest to burnt over, triple canopy titi. Along with all of that, the woods creatures from snakes to bears, extreme heat to extreme cold and bugs to briars.
I joined NPN in 2006. I was a brash “know it all”, thin-skinned and argumentative. It took a while, but I gradually came to recognize the value of objective critiquing and the honest intent of fellow members to improve my skills. Along the way, I reserved half and more of my photography for flowers, plants and trees. I am truly grateful for what I have learned at NPN, and am firmly committed to advancing nature photography, both as an art form and as a skill set.
e-mail Phil Hodgkins